Original Christmas songs and albums are becoming harder to find, with so many artists finding the opportunity to sing classics too hard to resist. Who can blame them, after all, since these holiday songs are etched on our collective memories. Last year Pistol Annies released an album of mainly originals but that is rare.
Norah Jones’s ‘I Dream of Christmas’ was actually released last year, although I didn’t have a chance to listen to it then, so I was glad to see this deluxe re-release came just in time when I was looking for a new Christmas album to review. The edition includes six original songs written by Norah, alongside seasonal favourites sung in her classic jazz inspired sound.
I always love the more downbeat Christmas songs and this album begins with her sweetly melancholy song ‘Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)’ where she tries her best to be positive and not let the loneliness of the season in.
‘Christmas Don’t Be Late’ sounds gorgeously festive, all slowed down to a sweet serene smile. On ‘White Christmas’ she plays a little with the delivery, really enjoying herself while tinkering on the piano. ‘Blue Christmas’ and ‘Winter Wonderland’ prove her voice was made for music like this and the arrangements are interesting enough to make them stand out from every other version of these songs.
‘Christmas Glow’ is another original, which makes use of inventive piano and percussion to offer a wish for happiness outside and in. The best song on here is the lovely ‘Christmas Once a Year’, a little hymn to friends and loved ones missed during the pandemic.
‘Christmastime’ and ‘You’re Not Alone’ are both written with producer Leon Michels and bring a little soulful, gospel joy to the proceedings.
‘A Holiday With You’ is a pretty simple original but somehow her voice makes every song sound like a jazz classic from a bygone age.
The added songs for the Deluxe edition include the title track, a soulful version of ‘Last Month of the Year’ and the lovely ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’.
I like when Norah leans into her country influences like her Puss N Boots collaboration but really her natural home is this kind of original jazz, with her beloved piano. In the end Norah’s voice is perfect whatever she sings and these festive songs are a welcome addition to any Christmas playlist.